James Madison and the Problem with the Constitution

This comes from an early section of Tom Wood’s excellent The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. (Seriously, if you don’t have it, click the link and go buy it.)

Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1792,

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands, they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all the roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.

Sound familiar?

The man who wrote the First Amendment knew exactly well that the federal government would try to exploit areas of the constitution in order to expand their power. Madison wrote the above in 1792, but even by 1798 John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts were pushing the envelope of what the federal government could get away with.  With the later help of activist, federalist judges like John Marshall and those after him, the door was officially opened to allow the federal government to grow into the monstrosity it is today.

So the question becomes, does the constitution authorize the federal government expand it’s powers into every area of our lives, or is it simply too weak to restrain it?

My answer is: does it matter if the outcome is always the same?

19th century political theorist and lawyer Lysander Spooner convincingly argued in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, that the constitution shouldn’t even apply to those who never agreed to it. To him, the constitution was a contract between men. Spooner saw the idea of the constitution binding future generations of people by some mythical “social contract” as a ridiculous one.  I agree.

The State always expands its own power and authority at the expense of its subjects. It is parasitic by nature. The goal for should be to decentralize that power away from the federal government and back to the individuals, who are far better capable of making decisions for themselves.

Walter Williams on Rewriting History

Walter Williams has an interesting column today on the left’s tired attempts to rewriting American history. In it, I think, he encapsulates the proper way to think about this issue. This is no surprise from the always clear-thinking Williams.

He starts his column (which you can read in its entirety here), fittingly, with a quote from Orwell, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” That is certainly an apt description of the left’s incessant need to tear down the elements of history that they don’t approve of.

Some brief history is necessary. Outlawing or tearing down confederate monuments and symbols is certainly nothing new. There have been organized movements to remove the confederate flag and other monuments in southern states since the 1960’s. The movement has gained even more traction since the 2015 South Carolina church massacre, which led to the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building. This success has led directly to the recent events in New Orleans, where four long time historical monuments are now being removed.

Whether controversial historical monuments belong on public property or not should be up to the people who live there, but it is a dangerous game the left is playing. If you believe that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, how much more so for those who willingly repress and destroy the past? Wouldn’t a better solution be to allow a private dealer to purchase the monuments and display them on private property? Well, no, because the goal isn’t to relocate the monuments to somewhere more appropriate, the goal is to destroy them and any memory of them. It isn’t about tolerance and inclusiveness, it’s about political power, pure and simple.

Not to mention, where do you stop? This is ultimately Williams’ point.

“The challenges of rewriting American history are endless, going beyond relatively trivial challenges such as finding new pictures for our currency. At least half of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners. Also consider that roughly half of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were slave owners. Do those facts invalidate the U.S. Constitution, and would the history rewriters want us to convene a new convention to purge and purify our Constitution?

The job of tyrants and busybodies is never done. When they accomplish one goal, they move their agenda to something else. If we Americans give them an inch, they’ll take a yard. So I say, don’t give them an inch in the first place. The hate-America types use every tool at their disposal to achieve their agenda of discrediting and demeaning our history. Our history of slavery is simply a convenient tool to further their cause.”

Well said.